Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Celebrity Equinox - The Adventure Begins...With a Bump or Two

So everything and everybody was ready to go...and then the car to take us to the airport didn't so up.  Fortunately, I left us more than enough time and had a Plan B, so we piled all the luggage in the car and drove to an airport parking service with valet.  We even had time for a drink in the Continental President's Club before our flight. 

The flight to Rome was fine and we sailed through Passport Control, our luggage was the first off the belt, and an ATM was right there next to the luggage carousel.  As we were going to grab a taxi with all our luggage a van service approached and offered a 160€ price to Civitavecchia (a 45 minute drive).  I was able to negotiate them down to 100€...and things were looking good.

Then we arrived at our hotel; which was always intended to be a sort of economy place to crash until our cruise the next day.  Well, economy is what we got.  Let's just say the pictures online and the comments on TripAdvisor.com were a bit optimistic.  But it worked as a place to sleep and the staff is friendly enough.

But then a wonderful surprise and the reason I love local stuff.  The front desk suggested a restaurant for dinner in the rather depressed port town of Civitavecchia.  We walked to La Palamite and looked at each other as a very non-descript restaurant with bright lights greeted us.  The manager/waiter had a great smile and very little knowledge of English.  With my very little knowledge of Italian, it wasn't looking good.

But then we had a really good meal with lots of smiles, excellent seafood and pasta, and the locals started to slowly arrive for their later dinner.   Wonderful mussels, clams, prawns, langastino and calamari.  Even the spaghetti with tomato sauce was special.  And my son had the best fried calamari I have ever tasted.

We asked for a bottle of wine take back to the hotel.  The manager was so nice he offered to give it to us as a gift.  (We, of course, declined and paid for it.)  And all of a sudden the depressed little port town with the tired hotel seemed like a really friendly place.  For me it made the overnight worth it. 

Would I do it again?  Would I recommend it to my clients?  No and No.  Am I happy we gave it a shot?  Absolutely.

We board the Celebrity Equinox in about an hour and the whole family is looking forward to it.